We're already several chapters into our celebration of Roma's goals of the year, and, believe it or not, we've yet to get to our church's patron saint, Francesco Totti. Despite only scoring eight goals, his lowest haul since 2011-2012 and only the seventh time in his two plus decades at Roma he's failed to crack double digits, Totti still had himself a hell of a year.
Besides those eight goals, still third on the club, Totti chipped in a league leading 10 assists, while finishing third in Serie A in key passes per match. Which all goes to show that, even at 37-years-old, Totti can still cut up a defense with the best of them.
Totti has assumed a number of roles during his two decades in Rome, shifting between facilitating and finishing, receiving varying degrees of help from teammates who were either overmatched or overdramatic, all of which makes his goal scoring record even more remarkable. Under Rudi Garcia, Totti still had his hands in all facets of Roma's offense, but thanks to the emergence of Mattia Destro and the rejuvenation of Gervinho, Totti no longer had to shoulder the entire offensive burden.
One evening in Milan, Totti managed to remind the world who was truly king of the peninsula. Thanks to two goals from Francesco, his 11th and 12th career league goals against the Nerazzurri, Roma cruised past their 21st century tormentor in a 3-0 romp.
Totti's first goal this evening, the de facto match winner, was undoubtedly his finest of the season.
October 5, 2013: 18th Minute
While no one will ever mark this among Totti's most spectacular goals, when you slow it down and look at what he was up against, it looks quite impressive. On this particular evening, Totti teamed up with Gervinho to put Inter behind the eight ball early in the match.
Three things stand out in this run of play. First and foremost, if you listen closely you can hear the announcer utter a vaguely familiar Italian word, ‘Balzaretti', I'm not entirely sure what it means, but it hits the ears quite nicely. Secondly, and less sarcastically, take a look at what a masterful job Gervinho does at holding up play. As soon as the Predator receives the ball from Florenzi, he is immediately seized upon by three defenders, but rather than, in his traditional mold, trying to dribble over, around, and through them, Gervinho shields the ball and lays it off to Totti.
What happened next...well, there aren't many men who can pull that off.
Those same three defenders who surrounded Gervinho soon saw their numbers grow by two. As five Nerazzurri defenders quickly closed ground on him, Totti made the most of what little room he had. Immediately jumping on Gervinho's pass, which was impeccably waited and ran just far enough, Totti struck the ball absolutely perfectly, keeping it low and driving it into the far corner, and all with Álvaro Pereira barreling towards his feet.
We should also credit Alessandro Florenzi for getting the ball to Gervinho to begin with; chipping a ball off your outstep between two defenders is no small feat. Similarly, credit Totti once more for hanging back and following the run of play in the first place. This goal didn't require any fancy footwork, there were no backheels and no gravity defying volleys, but it was magnificent all the same.
Roma...she can be beautiful, but you already knew that.